The insurance and financial services industry prides itself on having a strong tradition of engaging in charitable causes. And industry professionals are also inclined to enjoy the game of golf. Put those two impulses together and you have a recipe for a successful charitable event.

One of New England's most beloved charitable causes is the Jimmy Fund, which supports the fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Jimmy Fund Golf Program, started in 1983, has become a popular way for groups of all kinds to put on golf tournaments in support of Dana-Farber.

In its first 20 years, by the end of 2003, the Jimmy Fund Golf Program had raised more than $36 million, according to Ellen Chandler, a spokesperson for the program. More than 150 Jimmy Fund golf tournaments are held annually, many of which have some sort of corporate involvement.

The financial services industry is a big supporter. Mutual Funds Against Cancer, for example, now in its tenth year, has raised more than $500,000 in its lifetime. Currently held at the Pine Hills Country Club in Plymouth, Mass., the tournament was started by Frank Strauss, an independent industry consultant who turned a small family-type tournament into a corporate fundraiser after his mother was successfully treated for leukemia at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute back in the mid-1990s.

The tournament's sponsor list — headlined by State Street Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. — is a veritable who's who of the New England mutual fund industry. “The firms equate it to an industry conference — they need to maintain a presence,” Strauss says. “It has “turned into the golf event for the mutual fund industry in the New England area.”

Groups that want to run a Jimmy Fund tournament have access to a program staff who provide training services. “It's pretty much a basic ‘101 course’ on running a golf tournament,” Chandler says. The program also has four main corporate sponsors who can provide support ranging from advertising to tournament prizes. And the Jimmy Fund tournaments are not limited to New England: they will be held in 11 states this year, including Washington, Florida, and Kentucky.

“The Jimmy Fund has quite a reputation,” says Fred DiGregorio, who has served as director of the program since its inception (and whose daughter was successfully treated for a rare form of cancer at The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). “As far as community relations goes, it's a great charity to partner with, and my staff works hard to encourage corporate sponsorship. But, without fail, sponsors tell me they are doing it not from a business standpoint, but because it's the right thing to do.”